The Disney-princess version of a yoga picture book; undoubtedly marketable and predictably flawed.




Page by page, young readers are guided through a sun salutation, one of the most recognizable sequences in contemporary Western yoga.

Hinder’s exuberant style radiates a color palette warm as the morning sun. Subtle details seem to shimmer on the page. The text opens with wonderful simplicity, providing movement instruction and inviting readers to notice what they experience. It quickly becomes overworked, however, abandoning simplicity in favor of forced rhyme. The text alone does little to explain the movements, and the accompanying images are problematic as models. Like many yoga-themed picture books published recently, this work falls prey to the trap of presenting yoga sequences that are recognizable to adults without adapting the poses for young bodies. The plank and knee-chest-chin poses depicted, for example, require an inappropriate degree of core strength for the target audience. The single child depicted is overtly feminine in appearance. A contemplative, closed-mouth smile graces a tan-skinned face framed by flowing dark hair. While this version of feminine serenity will certainly appeal widely to yoga teachers and practitioners, it simultaneously reinforces stereotypical notions that yoga is an activity for “girls”—one limited to a certain kind of girl at that. Chipper animals flock to the child at every turn; one nearly expects the cast of characters to burst into song. Backmatter presents the flow of the salutation and discusses both the practice and meditation.

The Disney-princess version of a yoga picture book; undoubtedly marketable and predictably flawed. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68364-283-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sounds True

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Every child can benefit from these important strategies.



Ollie is only a puppy, and his barefooted child is having trouble soothing and training him.

Ollie can get overly excited or very anxious—which wouldn’t be such a problem if he wasn’t constantly barking inside his person’s head! He yaps for no reason and wants to run and jump when he should be calm and quiet. What happens when the puppy controls the child and not the other way around? “AWOOO!” The narrator, who has brown skin and dark brown hair, mirrors the frantic antics of the puppy until the application of mindfulness techniques helps mellow out the two friends. Gravel uses the analogy of an exuberant puppy to help young children get the upper hand on a stressed and anxious mind. The puppy analogy devolves at times to cutesy: “I love Ollie. He’s such a good puppy. He is my best friend.” Nevertheless, coping mechanisms are effectively introduced. The author demonstrates how the mind can be calmed by using breathing practices—the child calls their breath a “magical leash”—physical exercise, and focus. Gravel’s signature black-outlined, comics-style drawings and oversized, colorful text stand out against generous negative space. The golden, long-eared puppy’s expressive features (bugged eyes and lolling red tongue) and cavorting, stubby-legged body successfully convey kinetic energy overload. The subtitle’s a bit of a misnomer, as anxiety relief rather than mindfulness is the focus, but the advice is sound, buttressed by a brief afterword from a pediatrician. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Every child can benefit from these important strategies. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-303767-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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Animals, action, and accurate information—packaged for kids. A winner.



Uncluttered design and clear instructions mark this kid-friendly introduction to nine basic yoga poses.

Each double-page spread pairs National Geographic photos with a rhyming two-line verse, with action words set in display type. The high-quality photos are set within circles of bright contrasting colors. On the right-hand side of each spread, a child on a yoga mat (this photo outlined by an original mandala design) demonstrates a yoga pose inspired by the animal: “CURL like a cat! / STRETCH like a puppy! / ROAR like a lion! / TUCK like a bunny!” Four to six lines of instructional text in a smaller but still clear font guides readers into the posture and includes suggestions about when to breathe and how often to repeat the action or sustain the pose. A conversational foreword by yoga teacher Tara Stiles encourages children to “go with the flow” when trying the movements. Towler’s verses, including an introductory and closing stanza, speak directly to children’s interests: “Playful puppies run and fetch, / tumble, tussle, stop, and stretch.” Four pages of backmatter repeat on a smaller scale the photos of the animals that inspired the poses along with information about their behaviors and habitats, thumbnail photos of the five racially and gender diverse children modelling proper yoga technique, and the English and Sanskrit name of each asana.

Animals, action, and accurate information—packaged for kids. A winner. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3752-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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